Thalictrum aquilegifolium is an exceptionally beautiful perennial and a superb border plant.
This species of meadow rue typically grows 60 to 90cm (24 to 36in) tall and features a basal clump of lacy, fine-textured, bluish-green foliage that is a little like a Columbine or Maidenhair Fern in effect.
Thalictrum aquilegifolium 'Purpureum' produces up a superb array of flower stems that rise above the foliage in late spring to early summer and are topped by a hazy, fuzzy show of purple flowers.
Despite their delicate appearance, Thalictrum is fairly tolerant of warm, humid summers. They prefer a rich, humus rich soil on the moist side and light, dappled sun, but will grow reasonably well in most borders and tolerates partial shade. In warm regions plants will tolerate full sun if kept moist.
Easy to grow with little maintenance, these long lasting perennials flower in the same summer when sown early, otherwise will flower in their second season. Clumps may be easily divided in spring or autumn.
In midsummer, they add a marvellous, gentle effect when combined with larger flowered plants and provide an excellent contrast to more stately formal plants. They produce a shimmering hazy effect in beds and borders wildflower gardens or meadows, and both leaves and flowers are good for flower arrangements.
Sowing: Sow February to April / August to September.
Sow in pots or trays containing John Innes seed compost, or some similar free draining compost.
Sow indoors at 13 to 16°C (55 to 60°F), “Just cover” the seed with vermiculite or sieved compost.
The compost should be kept moist but not wet at all times. Germination should occur between 15 to 21 days
Thin (prick out) to 7.5cm (3in) pots when seedlings have developed two proper leaves and are large enough to handle. Gradually acclimatise to outdoor conditions for 10 to 15 days before planting out. Space 45cm (18in) apart.
The thalictrums prefer cool places, in semi shade they will grow well in deep soil. If in full sun they will require moist but not wet ground. In open, exposed areas the plants may need to be supported. In areas with severe winters, winter protection is suggested.
To make sure the plants remain vigorous divide them every two to three years as soon as growth begins in spring. (March to April). Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a greenhouse or cold frame until they are growing away well. Plant them out in the summer or the following spring.
Cottage/Informal, Beds and borders. Shaded Gardens
Thalictrum aquilegifolium is native to Europe and temperate Asia, with a naturalised distribution in North America limited to New York and Ontario. It grows wild throughout a fairly wide area in Europe ranging from west in France and Spain in through Switzerland into western Russia south into Romania into Bulgaria and is rarely found in Turkey.
The genus of Thalictrum is quite large with between 100 and 200 species. One of the characteristics of the genus that differentiates it from many others in its family, the Ranunculaceae, is that the flowers lack nectar-producing structures (nectaries). Other members of the family without nectaries include Anemone and Clematis, but they remain insect-pollinated, while Thalictrum relies on the wind.
The genus name Thalictrum is taken from the Greek thaliktron, a name used to describe a plant with divided leaves, and a name given to the genus by Dioscorides, the Greek physician and pharmacologist who wrote the Materia Medica, which remained the leading pharmacological text for sixteen centuries.
The species name aquilegifolium, also spelled aquilegiifolium means 'with leaves like Aquilegia' which describes the leave shape of this and a number of other Thalictrum species.
Despite their common name of 'meadow-rue', Thalictrum species are unrelated to the true rue (family Rutaceae), but resemble its members in having the petiole twice or thrice divided.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 25 Seeds Family Ranunculaceae Genus Thalictrum Species aquilegifolium Cultivar Purpureum Common Name French Meadow-Rue, Greater Meadow Rue. Other Common Names Columbine Meadow Rue Hardiness Hardy Perennial Flowers Rose-mauve Natural Flower Time Late spring to early summer. Foliage Lacy columbine-like bluish green foliage Height 60 to 90cm (24 to 36in) Spread 45 to 60cm (18 to 24in) Position Full Sun to Partial Shade Time to Sow Sow February to April or August to September Germination 15 to 21 days at 13 to 16°C (55 to 60°F)